Johnny Depp cartoon set to animate box office

Thu Mar 3, 2011 9:01pm EST
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By Pamela McClintock

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Will an animated chameleon be the one to chase away the box-office blues?

"Rango," an Old West cartoon voiced by Johnny Depp, is expected to score the best debut of the year when it rolls out Friday.

Most believe that "Rango" -- reteaming Depp with "Pirates of the Caribbean" director Gore Verbinski -- will gross north of $40 million for the weekend. More sophisticated than most cartoons, the film should draw adults as well as families.

"Rango," which cost $135 million to produce, will open simultaneously in a slew of foreign markets, including the U.K. With a voice cast that also includes Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Timothy Olyphant and Bill Nighy, "Rango" is the first animated film made by George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic.

Universal's sci-fi romantic thriller "The Adjustment Bureau," starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, is likewise tracking well. Box-office observers think it has a good chance of crossing $20 million, although Universal is playing it safe in the current soft environment and predicting an opening in the high- to mid-teens.

Universal acquired "Adjustment Bureau" from producer Media Rights Capital for $65 million and expects the film to be fueled by the same older moviegoers who have turned a number of recent adult-themed films, including "True Grit" and "The King's Speech," into box-office hits. Overseas, "Adjustment Bureau" opens at the weekend in 21 countries.

Speaking of "King's Speech," the drama should enjoy a sales bump after winning four Oscars, including best picture, last weekend.

The two other films opening this weekend -- CBS Films' "Beastly" and Relativity Media's raunchy R-rated comedy "Take Me Home Tonight" -- are expected to post much softer openings.   Continued...